The Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN) Ottawa is a United Way-led community initiative that brings together employers and service providers with a goal of increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities.
The labour force in Canada continues to shrink and employers are challenged to recruit and retain talent. At the same time, only 43% of people with disabilities in Ottawa participate in the labour market – compared with 70% of the general population. Additionally, 1 in 6 people with disabilities live below the poverty line. By providing employment opportunities to people with disabilities, not only are we giving them a pathway out of poverty, we are helping employers access a virtually untapped talent pool to increase their likelihood of getting the right person for the job.
WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO EMPLOYMENT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES?
Many employers are not aware of the resources available to help them to hire, accommodate and retain employees with disabilities. There are also myths and misconceptions about the costs and liabilities that employers face in hiring and integrating people with disabilities into their workforce. In addition, our society has historically not placed enough value on the contributions and skills that people with disabilities can bring to a workplace.
HOW DOES EARN WORK?
EARN brings together a broad group of stakeholders – including people with disabilities, service providers, employers and funders – with an action-oriented mandate to:
address service gaps
provide information and resources for employers regarding workplace accommodation
provide a single point of access for employers and service providers to match people with disabilities with employment opportunities.
EARN Ottawa is made up of a Steering Committee [PDF], a Service Provider Working Group and a Business Leadership Network – a group of prominent employers focused on eliminating barriers to meaningful employment. In a cohesive way, this structure benefits both employers and the service providers who assist people with disabilities. It allows employers to network, share best practices and learn more about employees with disabilities. At the same time, it makes it easier for service providers to identify employment opportunities for their clients.
EARN OTTAWA FOUNDING MEMBERS
Algonquin College, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, City of Ottawa, MBNA Bank, TD Canada Trust, Telfer School of Business (at University of Ottawa), The Westin Hotel, United Way Ottawa, University of Ottawa.
Algonquin College Student Services, Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario, Causeway Work Centre, LiveWorkPlay, Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care Inc., Service Canada.
HOW WILL EARN HELP?
EARN has engaged volunteers and partners who are developing specific action plans around three key strategies.
Employer Engagement: bringing together small, medium and large employers to build a network of resources to address Human Resource (HR) needs and promote the business case for inclusion in the workplace.
Service Provider Coordination: convening local stakeholders including service providers, funders and clients to improve employment supports and resources aimed at reducing barriers to employment.
Job Matching: developing a direct and coordinated response to meet the growing people needs and talent gaps of employers by linking them with the broad, untapped talent pool of service provider clients. Underpinning each of these strategies is our research into labour market trends, employment opportunities and effective HR strategies that speak to Ottawa’s unique needs and economy.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?
View the EARN brochure [PDF 266 KB]